Cops: Cameras catch criminals

Talk about Candid Camera!

Video has become the bane of thieves throughout Sheepshead Bay and Manhattan Beach, where police say a recent drop in felonies is the result of residents’ penchant for pointing cameras just about everywhere.

“In 2009 we identified a lot of bad guys,” Captain George Mastrokostas, the commanding officer of the 61st Precinct told council members Wednesday. “[Video] played a key role.”

Last July, a surveillance camera at the Stop & Shop on Avenue Y between East 17th and East 18th streets captured video of a man using a credit card stolen from a home on East 23rd Street. He was ultimately arrested.

A few months earlier, a surveillance camera helped nab two men caught skulking about a building on East 14th Street between Gravesend Neck Road and Avenue X. They were arrested for burglary after video showing them running down the building’s hallway was presented to cops.

But it’s not just local businesses taking part in the video craze.

Community Affairs Officer Aiesha Grant recalled responding to a burglary call in Manhattan Beach where the resident said he had a video of the thief entering his home before searching for valuables.

“[The resident] had video cameras throughout his house,” she said.

And that makes the police’s job a bit easier.

“We know who the criminals in this command are,” said Mastrokostas. “When we see them commit a crime, either on video or out in the street, we’re going to make sure they go away for a long time.”

As of April 4 the 61st Precinct has a 19.4 percent drop in crime in 2010, the highest in the city.

The precinct had the second largest crime drop in 2009, following the Central Park precinct in Manhattan, a neighboring borough.